#227. Was there only manna to eat OR not? (Ex 16:35; Num 11:6 vs Ex 12:38, 17:3, 24:5, 34:3; Lev 1-27; Num 7, 9:1-14, 28-29)

Numbers 11—a story about the people’s complaining to Moses that they have no meat to eat, only manna—is part of the murmuring traditions, some of which we have already looked at (#125, #126, #127) and even seen use contradictorily by other biblical scribes (#124). To a large extent the quail story of Numbers 11, where Yahweh responds to the Israelite’s complaining that they have had no meat to eat only mannaRead More

#226. The Ark of Yahweh: an empty throne seat which served a martial function OR the holy of holies which served a ritual function? (Num 10:33-36, 14:44-45; 1 Sam 4:1-7 vs Ex 25:22, 37:1-9; Lev 16:11-17; Num 4:5-15)

At Numbers 10:33, attributed to J, we are abruptly introduced to a story about the Ark of the covenant of Yahweh, which is portrayed in a very unique role. And it was, when the Ark traveled that Moses said “Arise Yahweh and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee from your presence.” (Num 10:35) In this passage, as in others, the Ark of Yahweh is beingRead More

#225. Who is to lead the way through the wilderness: Yahweh OR Reuel? (Num 9:18-23 vs Num 10:31)

There is a mix of curious and out-of-place material that immediately follows the detailed narrative of the Tent of Meeting, the place of the Aaronid priests and their Levite subordinates, the construction of the cultic institution, and all the cultic and purity issues raised throughout the book of Leviticus and Numbers 1:1-10:28. Starting at Numbers 10:29, we suddenly here stories about: Reuel again (or is it Jethro? #85) Yahweh’s Ark, whoseRead More

#224. Do the Israelites set out for the wilderness of Paran OR Hazeroth? (Num 10:12 vs Num 11:35)

Thus far in our examination of the book of Numbers we have only looked at passages from the Priestly source, now preserved as the opening of Numbers (Num 1:1-10:28), and how this literature or more appropriately its ideas, beliefs, and even ideologies contradict other textual sources and traditions that went into the making of the Pentateuch. This material is easily identifiable as Priestly based on its unique vocabulary, formulaic style, andRead More

#222. Must one be pure for Passover OR not? (Num 9:9-11 vs Deut 16:1-8)
#223. Is the observance of Passover an eternal law OR not? (Ex 12:14-17; Lev 23:4-5 vs Gal 3-4)

As we have repeatedly seen already (#175, #178, #183, #184, #185, etc.) that concern for ritual and ethical purity was top priority for the Aaronid priesthood that penned the book of Leviticus and 75% of what is now the book of Numbers. Throughout Leviticus, and especially in those chapters devoted to its laws and commandments (Lev 11-22), the role of the Aaronid priests is repeatedly defined through the phrase “to distinguishRead More

#221. What transpires on the day Moses sets up and anoints the Tabernacle: Aaron and his sons are anointed as Yahweh’s priests and shut in the Tent of Meeting for a 7 day ordination OR Israel’s 12 chieftains present sacrificial offerings to Yahweh, 1 a day for the following 12 days? (Ex 40:1-17; Lev 8-9 vs Num 7)

Numbers 7 claims to narrate events that happened “on the day Moses finished setting up the Tabernacle” (Num 7:1), “on the day it was anointed” (7:10). This, however, presents two particular difficulties—contradictions—when reading, erroneously, these wilderness stories as a single homogeneous, divinely-authored or any single-authored, historical narrative. This is not what our biblical scribes were doing nor saw themselves as doing. Rather, as stressed repeatedly in other posts, these are theRead More

#220. Are the Levites allowed to touch the holy objects of the Tabernacle OR not? (Deut 18:1-8; 1 Sam 6:13-19; 2 Sam 6:6-7, etc. vs Num 4:1-19)

Nowhere is the agenda, and polemic, of the Aaronid priestly guild and its text, the Priestly source, more apparent than in its treatment and depiction of its rivals, the Levites. In this text, mainly Exodus 35–Numbers 10, our Aaronid writer has Yahweh proclaim on numerous occasions that: no non-Aaronid Levite can be a priest, only an Aaronid can (#152) no non-Aaronid Levite can eat of Yahweh’s sacrifices, only Aaronids can (#177)Read More